Multicultural CommunityStories

Bridge Builders

Connecting People of Sudan & South Sudan around the World

For a full 2-3 years, I have wondered how a mother might feel about her toddler who has not learned to verbalize self expression in their own words, or even a more complicated situation where the toddler has only learned to speak two words (Baba & Mama). The only avenue of communication this toddler has to the outer world is through their mother (pain, joy, etc.). This must be a God given ability, that does not usually get recognized or appreciated in a formal way.  Our inability to see beyond the surface and dig deep into the inner man, as well as culture blindness, makes us easy, vulnerable prey to the culture of assumption. 

There is an abundance of diversity among all of us, and also many differences in our cultures. Because of the differences, it is necessary for us to recognize that we are each created by God in His image, and we need to celebrate and accept each other’s culture. Culture is just a manmade base on language and geographical location.

As I learned to appreciate my culture, as well as my identity with the understanding that it was from God, I began venturing out to learn other cultures while also being the ambassador of my own culture. This required me to put aside the defense-mechanism mindset, be open minded, and be willing to correct wrongs and any misunderstanding or misleading information about my culture. Meanwhile, I keep inquiring more about the other culture, and thus becoming a bridge of reconciling and connecting two totally different worlds/cultures by identifying areas to be recognized and celebrated in the light of God’s Truth.

Being a Bridge Builder

Along the way you will be faced with the challenge of many walls people build to intentionally diminish or minimize other cultures. They want to exalt other cultures which results in weakening us no matter who’s on the top. Isaac Newton said, “We build too many walls, and not enough bridges.” We will never lose ground if we build more bridges.

As a bridge builder, you should not expect recognition or appreciation. Have you ever seen someone get out of their car after crossing a bridge to say “thank you” to the bridge for making it possible for them to cross over to the other side? I don’t think so. The same is true for the mother who never hears their toddlers telling them “thank you.”

My favorite word in the Bible is “compassion.” A bridge builder without compassion is not able to go very far because of being nearsighted. However, a bridge builder with compassion is able to see the bigger picture. You become moved with compassion, which in turn motivates you to action to get to know other people and their cultures. In addition, compassion will help you to be in it for the long haul.

Bridge builders are found in all kinds of places and in all kinds of circumstances, and they are very lovely people who wish the very best for other people. They are always looking for ways they can mean something to others specially by referring them to other people. I am blessed to have Josh Davis (my “twin” brother) and Jay Kim who enrich and influence my life so greatly by being real examples of true bridge builders.

From both of them, I learned that I need to know what I don’t know, and to listen carefully, as well as developing interest to ask questions to find out what people can do and provide opportunities for people to meet each other. I’m forever grateful for my friends and one more thing I’ve yet to learn is how to rejoice and enjoy and recognize the small things and point it out for them and praise them and be intentional about it.

Sharing Your Culture

Music is one of the very practical ways to introduce your story and your culture, and it is easily understood and accepted and celebrated. Once the story of your song becomes relevant, then the song becomes personal and it begins to be passed down the line.

When I was driving for Uber I picked up two Asian ladies and, as the conversation carried on, I discovered they were from Korea; so I started singing Elai Yesu (meaning It’s Only You Jesus) in Korean language. One of the ladies said, “Oh that’s my favorite song sung by my favorite worship team!” and she asked me where I learned the song. And to her surprise I was the one who taught this song to my American “twin” brother Josh in Arabic language and English, then he translated it to Spanish, later he met a Korean friend who translated the song into Korean.

One song traveled from South Sudan to USA and all the way to South Korea, and each step of the way every culture sang the song as though it were their own.

[written by Abraham Deng]

Join Jaewoo Kim and Josh Davis as they share the song Elai Yesua. (For more song tutorials like this, check out Proskuneo Actualize!)

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